BooksOfTheMoon

General Practice (Sector General, #7-8)

By James White

Rating: 5 stars

There’s something utterly satisfying about finishing a Sector General novel, especially when you’re as far along as this and are familiar with everyone’s favourite space hospital. I love the way that intriguing situations are created without any conflict or violence, or at least, that the conflict that does arise tends to be the result of misunderstandings or arguments about the best treatment.

For anyone who’s unfamiliar with the concept, Sector Twelve General Hospital is a giant multi-species hospital somewhere near the rim of the galaxy with the facilities to treat any species known to the Galactic Federation, from the more usual warm-blooded oxygen-breathers right up to the wild and wacky creatures that exist through the direct absorption of radiation.

At the end of the previous book in the series, Star Healer, the protagonist of the series up to that point, the Human doctor Conway was promoted to the top tier of physicians, the Diagnosticians. With this promotion, it became clear that he could no longer continue to be the reader’s point of view into the mighty world of Sector General, so with Code Blue – Emergency, the first volume in this omnibus, White makes a leap of faith and makes a non-Human the protagonist, something that continues with The Genocidal Healer. And White’s aliens are no Star Trek-style Humans with lumpy foreheads, but are truly weird, both physically and cognitively. The two books in this volume also begin to make the shift from purely physical medical problems to psychological ones, both in Code Blue – Emergency and The Genocidal Healer, although weird aliens with weird ailments are definitely still embedded in the genetics of the series.

In the introduction, John Clute speculates that White’s gentle space opera emerged from his background in Northern Ireland during the Troubles. As a child of the Province myself, I lived to see the Peace that White so clearly dreamt of and portrayed so achingly in his novels and I wish that he had lived long enough to see the same.

Book details

ISBN: 9780765306630
Publisher: Orb Books
Year of publication: 2003

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